Journal Article

Age matters: ageing and household energy demand in the United States

Estiri, H., Zagheni, E.
Energy Research and Social Science, 62–70 (2019)
Open Access


Age is an important proxy for many life course trajectories, and has complex and understudied relationships with energy consumption. We evaluated the presence and the shape of an age-energy consumption profile in the U.S. residential sector, using household-level data from four waves of the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) in 1987, 1990, 2005, and 2009. We constructed pseudo-cohorts from Bayesian generalized linear model estimates to create micro-profiles for energy consumption across the life course. Overall, we found that residential energy consumption increases over the life course. Much of the increase in energy consumption is due to housing size. Variations in the age-energy consumption micro-profiles can be described by concave and convex functions that transform from one to another across the life course. We conclude with a demographic perspective on the future of residential energy demand in the U.S. The confluence of demographic and climatic changes will likely cause an amplification of effects, challenging the supply and demand of energy for the older population.

Keywords: USA, age, ageing, climate, energy demand, housing, population
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.